Dean Stockwell, Quantum Leap Star, Is Dead At 85

It is with great sadness that we must report (via Variety) that beloved character actor Dean Stockwell has passed away at age 85. The actor, who had been quietly retired and creating art at his residence in Taos, New Mexico since 2016, died peacefully in his sleep at his home.

Born into a family of entertainers and a child actor on stage and screen since age eight, Stockwell built up a steady career as a working actor with over 200 credits. His fame peaked in the late eighties when he co-starred alongside Scott Bakula in the NBC sci-fi comedy series "Quantum Leap," which ran for five seasons and retains a cult following to this day. He won a Golden Globe in 1990 for playing the eccentric hologram character of Admiral 'Al' Calavicci in the show. Genre fans may also recognize him as originating the traitorous character of Doctor Wellington Yueh in David Lynch's 1984 movie of "Dune." He also earned fan recognition as the Cylon baddie John Cavil on three seasons of "Battlestar Galactica."

A 70-Year Career

Born in 1936, Stockwell was signed as an MGM contract player before age 10, appearing opposite Greer Garson and Gregory Peck in 1945's "The Valley of Decision." He appeared with Peck again in the 1947 message movie "Gentleman's Agreement," and also played Nick Charles' son in "Song of the Thin Man." He memorably played the title character in the 1948 cult classic "The Boy with Green Hair."

From the 1950's on, Stockwell fell in and out of acting, with some notable roles including "Compulsion" opposite Orson Welles and the 1962 film version of Eugene O'Neil's "Long Day's Journey into Night." In the mid-sixties, he dropped out to join the Topanga Canyon hippie subculture, which included fellow child actor Russ Tamblyn and musician Neil Young. Around this time he had a memorable lead role in AIP's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" as Wilbur Whateley, a young man attempting to bring back "the Old Ones" through use of the Necronomicon. He would also appear in a 2009 made-for-TV "Dunwich" remake.

Stockwell continued to appear frequently in episodic TV and B-movies, but by the early '80's had grown despondent over his career and began working as a real estate agent. Urged on by his friend actor Harry Dean Stanton, Stockwell appeared opposite him in 1984's critically acclaimed "Paris, Texas" from director Wim Wenders. This led to memorable parts in Lynch's "Dune" and subsequently "Blue Velvet" (where he lip-synched to Roy Orbison's "In Dreams"), "To Live and Die in L.A.," "Beverly Hills Cop II" and "Married to the Mob," the latter of which earned him his one and only Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Other memorable roles before his retirement included Robert Altman's "The Player," Harrison Ford's action hit "Air Force One," and a lovely one-scene role in Roman Coppola's criminally under-seen "CQ." His final onscreen appearance was in Rick Alverson's 2015 dark comedy film "Entertainment."